RT Cunningham


Basketball is the Most Popular Sport in the Philippines

basketball I didn’t have to read this article to know the most popular sport in the Philippines is basketball. It’s so popular, in fact, that it’s annoying to some people (like me) who aren’t into it.

I can’t play any kind of sport anymore because of injuries but even if I could, I wouldn’t play basketball. It’s not a contact sport, like American football, but every time I played it (when I was much, much younger) I got hurt. I was a lousy player anyway because I wasn’t aggressive enough to enjoy playing.

Basketball in Olongapo

There are regular courts in Olongapo and then there are street courts. The street courts are half-courts.

I will never understand why my wife, Josie, is such a big basketball fan. The last time she played, she was in high school. Our older son, Joseph, started playing when he was young and still plays on occasion. Josie wanted to watch the Chicago Bulls (and Michael Jordan) so badly in the 90s, I ended up putting in a satellite dish so she wouldn’t miss a game.

When we visited Josie’s family in the Kalaklan Barangay in 1986, all of her brothers played basketball on a full-court nearby. It could have been two half-courts but I really don’t remember.

The city paved the street we live on in 2006. Shortly after, two street courts appeared near opposite ends of the street. People aren’t playing at those courts all the time. Sometimes though, when we’re leaving or returning by car, we have to wait for them to get out of our way.

Professional Basketball Teams in the Philippines

Unlike professional basketball teams in the United States, professional basketball teams in the Philippines take the names of their sponsors. Like “San Miguel” or “Coca Cola”. It makes me wonder what happens when the sponsor drops the team. Does the team disband or does it get sponsored by some other company and change its name?

It’s called the PBA (sort of like the NBA in the United States), which is 12 company-branded franchise teams. My relatives will watch them on television when they’re playing. It’s more important to them than the latest blockbuster movie.

No Life without Basketball

Or so it seems. Filipinos seem to eat, drink and breathe basketball, excluding all other forms of entertainment. They play it in the rain and they play it at night, when others are sleeping.

I can hear the ball bouncing at the closest court. I don’t like hearing it bounce when I’m trying to sleep after 10 pm. After 11 years of living here, I still find it annoying. Sometimes, it’s the only thing keeping me from falling asleep. It doesn’t seem to bother Josie at all.

I can’t watch it on TV for very long. It’s not basketball itself. It’s all the advertising that goes with it. It’s the same reason I can’t watch the romantic dramas with Josie. American television stations air 20 minutes of commercials per hour. In the Philippines, it seems like 40 minutes per hour. I’m not kidding. I timed one commercial break at 10 minutes.

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By RT Cunningham
August 2, 2017